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I want to translate this plugin. This plugin already has translations to some languages, and it has .pot file for adding new languages (as far as I understood from description). Although I never had an experience to work with .po .mo
So I wonder what are the main points. How to create .po .mo files and how to define that the plugin will talk a certain language, I tried to define for examble russian language, but did not find where to do this [I tried to insert define ('WPLANG', 'ru_RU'); in wp-config.php but it does not help].

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5 Answers 5

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The Editor

There are others, but this is most used: Poedit, a cross-platform gettext catalogs (.po files) editor.

The Formats

  • .mo stands for Machine Object
    -- compiled export of the .po file which is used by WordPress
  • .po stands for Portable Object
    -- editable text file with the translations strings
    -- based on the master .pot file, using Update from POT file PoEdit function
    -- some folks distribute this as a master file, but it should be used only for translations
  • .pot stands for Portable Object Template
    -- editable text file used to grab all the translatable strings from WordPress itself and Themes and Plugins, using Update from Sources PoEdit function

The Procedure

  • Duplicate the .pot file and rename it to plugin-basename-lang_COUNTRY.po
  • Example for the referenced plugin case: subscribe-reloaded-pt_BR.po
    -- pt_BR means Portuguese Brazil, but many languages don't have a country variation...
    -- you'll have to fill in with your own language
  • WPLANG in wp-config.php file must be set to your language, e.g., pt_BR
  • Every time you save the .po file, PoEdit automatically generates a .mo file, which is the one WordPress uses and basically the only one you need to upload


  • If you do a full or a decent partial translation, submit it to the plugin author so he can include it in the Repository and you get credited for it
  • Don't forget to make a backup of your translation, because if you upgrade the plugin your file will be lost
  • @user17078 plugin suggestion is quite nice, but I never used it much
  • I left the writing of this answer opened for a while and @Pippin answered in the interim, but am publishing anyway... :)
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I suggest also http://poeditor.com/. It is a web-based translation tool that works great with .po, .mo, .pot and other types of files.

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A visitor proposed an edit pointing to a new plugin for this service: wordpress.org/extend/plugins/poeditor –  brasofilo May 17 '13 at 7:33

You can try this codestyling-localization plugin:. You can translate you plugins and themes using this.

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(Here is an EXAMPLE of translation to DEUTSCH. CHANGE the customs to YOUR DESIRED ones.)

in every plugins head, there is an unique name. (for example:

Plugin Name: my-pluginname

then, in that plugin's folder, create a folder "languages";

then, into your plugin .php file (somewhere in the top), insert the initialization code:

class load_language 
    public function __construct()
    add_action('init', array($this, 'load_my_transl'));

     public function load_my_transl()
        load_plugin_textdomain('my-pluginname', FALSE, dirname(plugin_basename(__FILE__)).'/languages/');

$zzzz = new load_language;

then open any text editor, then insert like this code (NOTE, THAT we are only adding two sample messages, "hello" and "bye", so , you can ADD AS MANY messages AS YOU WANT with the similar lines).

# English translations for PACKAGE package.
# This file is distributed under the same license as the PACKAGE package.
# Automatically generated, 2012.
msgid ""
msgstr ""
"Project-Id-Version: my-pluginname 1.0\n"
"Report-Msgid-Bugs-To: \n"
"POT-Creation-Date: 2012-08-06 13:46-0400\n"
"PO-Revision-Date: 2013-03-21 11:20+0400\n"
"Last-Translator: Automatically generated\n"
"Language-Team: none\n"
"MIME-Version: 1.0\n"
"Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8\n"
"X-Poedit-SourceCharset: iso-8859-1\n"
"Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit\n"
"Plural-Forms: nplurals=2; plural=(n != 1);\n"
"X-Generator: Poedit 1.5.4\n"

#: mypluginindex.php:87 (it is just a line of a note, to remind where our code appears)
msgid "mymessage1"
msgstr "Hello"

#: mypluginindex.php:88
msgid "mymessage2"
msgstr "Bye"

then save this file as "my-pluginname-en_US.po" (note, that .po is an extension of file, so check that your text editor program has not saved to "my-pluginname-en_US.po.TXT").

then download POEDIT software, and open this file. then edit the "translation" field, and then save as "my-pluginname-de_DE" there will be generated two files ( If poEdit does not generate the second .mo file automatically, just go to File -> Preferences -> Editor and check the box that says "Automatically compile .mo file on save"),

then put those two file into "languages" folder.

after this, open wp-config.php and find this code:

define ('WPLANG, '');

and change to

define ('WPLANG, 'de_DE');

That's all. When WordPress is loaded, it will read your plugins language file, with prefix -de_DE.

So, in the plugin's .php file, instead of:

echo "Something string";

you should use:

echo __("mymessage1", 'my-pluginname');

Finished. Now you should test your plugin.

p.s. used links:

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I tried this with my theme. In header.php, I have echo __("thanks-for-visiting", 'transparent');. In theme\languages\transparent-en_US.po, I have msgid "thanks-for-visiting" msgstr "Hello! Thank you for visiting. Take a look around and subscribe to the ". This outputs "thanks-for-visiting" on the front end. –  Steve Mar 10 at 6:09
Thanks for the example. Very clear. –  Manolo Aug 14 at 17:06

You will want to use POEdit. It's a free application for creating .po/.mo files.

I wrote a pretty in-depth tutorial on the entire topic here. You can skip to Step 3 - Create the Translation File For Text Domain.

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